Business and employee support programmes put in place in Staffordshire are as vital as ever despite a fall in the number of out-of-work claimants, the county council’s deputy leader has said.
The county council put its Staffordshire Means Back to Business strategy in place when the pandemic began and it has been making a difference to hundreds of businesses and people.
Figures recently released show that 4.4 per cent of the county population claimed out-of-work benefits in May, a fall from the previous month, when the figure was 4.6 per cent. The regional figure is seven per cent and national 6.1 per cent.
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said: “It is encouraging to see another decrease in the number of out of work claimants over the last two months in Staffordshire and we remain lower than both regional and national figures. We are starting to see signs of recovery in our local economy despite the continuing impact of the pandemic but we know this impact has been significant for our businesses and communities with some sectors continuing to be heavily impacted.
“The delay to the further easing of restrictions will come as a blow, particularly to our hospitality sector and so it’s important the support is there, both from the county council, our partners and central government. We want to ensure people know where to go to access the right type of support for them and have invested where it matters so that this targeted to meet the needs of our businesses.
“As a county we remain optimistic about the future and are determined that our economy continues to bounce back post pandemic. Through our long-term Staffordshire Means Back to Business Strategy, together with partner programmes, we continue to maintain our reputation as a great place to do business, work, visit and study with a highly skilled, highly connected and highly productive economy.”
People can find out about all business support initiatives at www.stokestaffsgrowthhub.co.uk
Working with district and borough councils, the £5million support package of support includes an investment to cover the costs for up to 500 apprentices, a training top-up fund for businesses to upskill their employees, a grants scheme to enable small businesses to thrive.
There is also a loan scheme for people who want to set up their own business and have completed an online Start-Up training course and a programme to support entrepreneurs currently in further education to set up their own business. In addition, a countywide support initiative with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) was launched early this year and small business loan scheme set up with not-for-profit lender BCRS.
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